CHESHIRE -- What began as a lemonade stand in front of a tag sale has become a charity raising hundreds of dollars for local families in need.
Kelly Msibi and her 4-year-old twins, Eva and Emma, first decided last month to use earnings from their tag-sale lemonade stand to help out family friend Mike Talora, who is suffering from stage-4 metastatic melanoma.
"When I asked them what they wanted to do with the money, they said they were going to ‘give it to Anthony's dad,'" Msibi said on Tuesday. Anthony, Talora's son, has been a friend of the twins for some time, she said.
Once they decided the money would go to Talora, Msibi said she placed signs advertising the stand around Cheshire. They had planned to only sell on Friday, Aug. 30, but reopened on Saturday and Sunday.
Eva and Emma were able to raise more than $300 for Talora in a single weekend.
Since then their idea snowballed into helping other families across the county -- and maybe the country, eventually -- by selling bracelets and inspirational plaques in addition to the lemonade.
Recently, Msibi enlisted the help of their friend Ashley Priester, owner of AP Home Decor, who makes bracelets, and offered space in front of her store for the girls to sell their lemonade.
On Sunday, the girls will be selling lemonade, bracelets and cookies in front of the store, located at 10 Ashland St. in North Adams, from 11 a.m., to 5 p.m., during the Berkshire Food Festival. All proceeds will go to help Berkshire County residents battle cancer.
The group created a Facebook page last month called "Eva and Emma's Lemonade Stand," and community interest grew.
"I'm amazed how quickly word has spread," Msibi said.
Thanks to the page, Eva and Emma have sold almost 200 bracelets at $2 each in just the last week alone.
"They don't know how much of an impact they've had," said the girls' father, Paul Akroman.
Msibi said she's gotten requests for bracelets from as far away as Pennsylvania, thanks to the Facebook page.
Preister said she has been receiving calls from other local businesses asking to sell the bracelets.
"We didn't really expect for it to blow up the way it did," Priester said.
The bracelet is made of thin hemp and, eventually, will wear down. When it does break apart, Priester said, it's said that a wish will come true.
"I told her we could get into craft fairs," Priester said.
Msibi said that she hopes to help families facing cancer not only with financial aid, but also "random acts of kindness," such as delivering flowers to the hospital. She's open to suggestions on who to help, through the Facebook page and email.
So far, all expenses have been paid by Msibi and Akroman out of pocket. They estimate that they've spent about $200 on various supplies, which they don't deduct from the proceeds.
Msibi said she is considering asking local businesses to sponsor the lemonade stand at events such as the Food Festival.
By this weekend, the girls will be showing off a brand-new lemonade stand, courtesy of Msibi's cousin, Corey McGrath, owner of Corey's Country Creations in Cheshire. He's built them a brand new stand, but won't let them see it just yet.
The big unveiling of the stand will be held Thursday at the Cheshire Elementary School's open house, where Eva and Emma will again be raising money.
Msibi said she's grateful for all the help they have received.
Akroman said he is proud to see his daughters want to help people in the community.
"It has a future," Akroman said. "It's something I think will grow."
Eva and Emma are also thinking big -- they hope to start selling pink lemonade soon.